Santa Maria's response: we will reduce the amount of sugar. – Food Pharmacy

Ann Fernholm

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Santa Maria’s response: we will reduce the amount of sugar.

On Friday, I emailed Santa Maria about their food, asking why some of their products are mostly based on sugar and water. I was inspired to write by the number of people who, like me, are tired of always having to read the ingredients of everything they buy. Below you’ll find Santa Maria’s response, and after that, my answer to them.

Hello Ann, thanks for your email. We absolutely welcome a continued debate about the content of our food. Santa Maria, of course, wants to make products that both taste good and do good. Therefore, we are intensely working on removing sugar, salt and unnecessary additives from our products. We’ve made a fair bit of progress. Since 2015 we’ve removed 395 tons of sugar and 223 tons of salt from our products. But we’re not done. By 2020, we hope to have reduced our total sugar content by 50%, and salt by 25%, compared to 2014. At the same time, I will say that these ingredients play an important role in many of our products. Not only in terms of taste, but in other qualities as well. For example: There are many different ways to make a spice-rub. Ours originated from an American recipe, in which raw sugar (which is by the way, many times more expensive than refined white sugar) is used for flavor and caramelization. If you want a different type of rub you can of course choose another brand, or make one yourself from scratch.

Last but not least, what would you say about coming to Mölndal, so we can explain more about how we work and also hear your thoughts and ideas about what we can do differently?

Have a nice weekend,
Eva Berglie

My response:

Hi and thanks! You’ve made some exciting progress in removing sugar from your food, though it’s not clear if the 395 tons are per year, or total since 2015. At the least, that’s around 40 grams per Swede.

My thought is that food sold in stores should be safe to eat, even in the long run. We consumers should not have to be ”additive-detectives” reading every ingredient list in the store while shopping, but be confident that, for example, a guacamole is based on avocado and not water, starch, thickeners and chlorophyll. We all have incredible biochemical machinery within us, developed through millions of years of evolution. That machinery needs to be filled with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals to work. In addition, our intestinal bacteria need the fibers you find in real foods (for example avocado). Neither sugar or rendered starch adds any vitamins to the body. When you base your food on processed additives the nutrition levels are too low.

I would love to come to your headquarters sometime when I’m close to Gothenburg. It would be interesting to see how the company works, and my hope is that you are open to hearing our perspective, for example about the research that indicates that high sugar consumption can lead to excess fat in the liver. Problems with fatty livers are increasing worldwide, including among children. Figures from the United States and Europe show that one out of ten children are now affected, which is frightening. Fat in your liver leads to type 2 diabetes and liver cancer. Type 2 diabetes can then cause cardiovascular disease, and is also linked to various cancers.

Personally, I think that you who work in the food industry have great opportunities to improve public health. If the food you produce is good for the human body – for example, if you stop basing your sauces on sugar – fewer children and adults will develop obesity and type 2 diabetes. Maybe start with clearly marking the amount of added sugar on the packaging.

Ann Fernholm

This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are the writer’s own.



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